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You Are the Solution: April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

As spring finally emerges, you may begin to see a lot more blue skies, and bright futures, but you will also see blue ribbons, blue pinwheels, and women carrying around blue trash bags to raise awareness for a very dark subject in our community that doesn’t always bring about blue skies or bright futures: child abuse.

Since 2016, there are have been 12 child abuse or neglect deaths in Wichita. Twelve. That is an entire soccer team, plus a substitution. Are we doing enough as a community to combat this?

Well…lets start by putting things into perspective:

According to the Kansas Department of Children and Families (DCF), on January 31, 2020, there were 7,472 children in out of home placements. That is almost 300 classrooms of 25 students—basically the entire student populations of East High, Derby High, both Maize High Schools, and just under Andover and Andover Central High Schools COMBINED. Or in simpler terms: half the capacity of Intrust Bank Arena.

Alarmingly, at the end of 2019, there were only 700 foster families in Kansas. Simple math assumes this breaks this down to at least 10 kids per foster family. Is that even possible? Not typically by Kansas’ DCF requirements.

So is our community doing enough?

There are numerous community volunteers, organizations and advocates working tirelessly to combat child abuse. Some argue that we simply need more foster families. THAT IS TRUE, we do. Every child should have a safe place to sleep every single night, and every child deserves to be loved and cared for. You could also argue that strengthening families so that children are not taken into state’s custody is a solid basis for prevention. THAT IS TRUE as well. But here is the thing:

We have to do our part!

Yes, you read that right. It is our responsibility to keep kids in our community safe! Here is how:

It starts at home.

  • Love and nurture your kids.
  • Help yourself! You deserve time-outs too—especially when our babies don’t stop crying or when we are feeling overwhelmed. Take a deep breath, and when needed, ask for help!
  • Help a neighbor, relative, or new parents. Take a dinner, offer laundry, or even just a 20 minute visit to hold a baby while they shower or run to the store.
  • Get involved! In your community, or at your child’s school, proximity is key to connectivity and connectivity helps build relationships!
  • Finally, if you see something, SAY SOMETHING! Our local school district has a hotline to report anything suspicious, 316-519-2282 but when in emergency, call 911!

5 Easy Freezer Meals to Save Time & Money

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Life with children is unpredictable. It’s busy. We’re tired. They’re not. To top it all off, we need to feed our families. Lame. That’s when freezer meals can come in handy. Sometimes when I remember I have food in the freezer to whip out an easy meal, I think I hear angels sing. I used to think freezer meals were mostly freezer bags full of food to just dump in your crockpot. Now, I have a plethera of ideas that aren’t limited to the crockpot and can even take less time to make. Hallelujah! The recipes and items below are some of our favorite meals to have and I almost ALWAYS have them on hand. Its easy to make them in bulk and freeze. Let’s get freezing!

My favorite item to have on hand in the freezer is meatballs. I use The Pioneer Woman’s all purpose meatballs and it makes a ton! She gives you instructions on how to flash freeze them. The only thing I do different is I bake the meatballs instead of frying them. These are super easy and quick to pull out of the freezer to serve with pasta, covered in BBQ sauce and served with veggies and mashed potatoes, on a hoagie for meatball subs or my favorite, Swedish Meatballs. There are so many things you can make with these and it’s easy!

Pasta and pizza are favorites in our house and I typically always have a homemade marinara in the freezer. You could easily buy jars of pasta sauce but I’m not a fan of many of them and the ones I do like are more than $6 a jar. Yikes. Budget Bytes has a super delicious slow cooker marinara sauce that we love! I double the recipe so I have plenty on hand. Once the sauce is done cooking, I scoop about 3 cups or so into each freezer bag and let sit out open for an hour or two to cool then seal to freeze flat. The sauce thaws super quick in a bag or sink of warm water.

Our family has a weakness for this lasagna recipe brought to you by The Pioneer Woman. It’s THE BEST. It does take some time to make, so when I do, I make a double batch and instead of putting them in to two 9×13 pans, I make four 8×8 pans. AI also use the oven ready lasagna instead of boiling my noodles. I can pull this out the night before and pop in the fridge – or there have been days where I just pop it straight from the freezer to the oven and just cook it longer. 

I’m a Costco gal and one of my favorite things is their rotisserie chicken. It’s $5 and is super delicious and moist. I’m a fan of using the chicken to make chicken pot pies or chicken enchiladas. I honestly don’t follow a recipe for these so if you need one, good ol’ Pinterest has tons of great ones. Once again, I’m doubling the recipe. Instead of making one pot pie, I make two big ones or four smaller ones. I make multiple pans of enchiladas as well. Then I get really wild. I make homemade chicken broth with the bones from the rotisserie chicken. This recipe from Jessica Eats Real Food is great, flavorful and easy to toss in your Instant pot or crock pot! I store my broth in the freezer in either freezer bags or freezer safe Tupperware containers. It typically makes around 9-10 cups of stock that you can use for soups, stews or in recipes that you may need just a cup or two! That $5 Costco chicken can help you make tons of meals!

Freezer meals aren’t just for dinners! I love having breakfast easy and accessible in the freezer for school mornings. I am NOT a morning person so anything that can help me get out the door with less effort is essential. I will occasionally make a big batch of waffles or pancakes and then freeze them but let’s be honest, most of the time I just buy frozen waffles and pancakes. There is a pancake bite recipe that I love to make for little effort! They are little protein pancake bites that makes a ton and you can customize the toppings. They are made in mini muffin pans and I love to do a variety of toppings. After I pour the batter in to the tins, I top some with maple syrup, some with cinnamon sugar, some with blueberries and the rest with mini chocolate chips. Once baked and cooled, I flash freeze them and then divide them into bags based on the toppings. In the morning, I’ll take out how many I need and heat them in the microwave for 30-60 seconds and the kids dip them in maple syrup or honey and gobble them up!

I hope these inspire you to prep and freeze some of your favorite meal components and meals! I can’t wait to hear what some of your favorite freezer meals are!

Online Kansas Agriculture Curriculum Now Available on YouTube

A couple of years ago, I helped to create an agriculture education program for our schools in Greenwood County and we called it You Are Here.

I hadn’t grown up in an agriculture community, so marrying a rancher and moving to the country was quite an education for me. I figured that everyone around me knew everything that I was learning…until my kids started school. I figured all the kids would know what mine did, growing up in a small agriculture-based community, but they didn’t.

I was very surprised.

On top of all of that, I was continuing to work in Wichita and as I learned more and more, I shared the realities of how cattle is raised and crops are grown with friends in town and found myself having the same conversations over and over again about agriculture.

I realized that something needed to happen, we needed to do something big.

So we started a ranch tour. It enabled us to be able to bring people out and SHOW them what we did here in on the ranch.

Then as the challenges of a general lack of agriculture knowledge on my mind constantly and ‘how could we fix it’… I was also dealing with a work problem: our struggles in  the city in every profession to keep Kansas kids in Kansas after they finished school.

It all clicked.

We have to make our kids proud of where they come from, and to make kids proud of Kansas, they need to understand Kansas, they need to have a knowledge of agriculture.

So we started an agriculture education program.

And it was great… it IS great.

When we started we heard comments from kids like…

“Chocolate milk comes from brown cows.”

“Food comes from the grocery store.”

“food is grown in factory farms”

“Cattle are bad for the environment”

So we talk about these things…and the kids learn(ed).

A class of kids during the You Are Here Agriculture education program trying to push over a hay bale.

And now we are (as quickly as we can) sharing that program on You Tube for everyone. So while you are home schooling your kids, you can share with them the beauty of Kansas and agriculture education from the people that are doing it each day.

Meet families that are raising cattle and crops.

Feeding two calves with bottles

Meet the experts that we turn to when we are making decisions about our operations and more!

All designed to teach the kids, be fun, and you might learn something too! Plus you can download worksheets so they can participate in worksheets from math to matching terms and so much more!

What is really exciting is this is a really busy time on the ranch and farm. We have calving going on, we are getting ready to start planting, and we will start burning the Flint Hills soon too! 

Hope you will follow along.

What is the difference between the farm and ranch anyway?

Tune in to find out!

5 New Wines to Add to Your Shopping List This Spring

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I love eating fruits and vegetables in-season.  We live in a globalized society where we can get Florida’s in-season mangoes in February pretty much across the country.  No matter where I live, for me, those mangoes are the first herald of spring. And with different food, I especially want to change out the wine I’m serving up at home. It’s an easy switch from cellar temperature heavy reds to lighter, chillable varieties once I’ve turned my sights on springtime.  But I also like to make it interesting. Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and even a Lambrusco are excellent staples for spring.  But what about all those other spring wines waiting to be discovered? If it has a unique name, sediment in the neck, or its own pouring instructions on YouTube, I’m here for it. Bonus points if the producer made fewer than 6,000 cases for the entire vintage year. While bulk wines with big names will always have a place on liquor store shelves, I like to seek out those (possibly dusty) unusual bottles and see what else is out there.  Here are my top five wine picks for spring.

Txakoli. It looks intimidating but this delicious Spanish wine is easy to pronounce: choc-o-LEE. You won’t regret learning that one. xakoli is a white wine, usually slightly sparkling, high in acid, and low in alcohol. From the Basque region of Spain, hence the unusual-to-us spelling, Txakoli has been growing in popularity since the 1990s. It is not in every liquor store but it is worth the hunt. Definitely look up “Txakoli high pour” on YouTube and do try this at home!  

Picpoul Blanc. Originally found in the Languedoc region of France, Picpoul Blanc has breached the ocean. My favorite comes from a small producer in Sonoma County, California but do take the time to track some down from your local wine retailer. Picpoul, roughly translated, means lip-stinger which references the high acidity of the wine. Picpoul is bright, sharp, and makes fish dishes taste like you’re at the beach. At my house, I drink it before dinner, because I don’t know how to cook fish!

Rosé but make it weird. I was on board with “Rosé all day” YEARS ago. But so much bulk Rosé that you see in stacks at the liquor store is bland or maybe marketed as a novelty. Keep on walking! Find a Rosé with a boring label, it’s likely the winemaker put more effort into the juice. Or find a Rosé made from a grape you don’t usually drink.  There is an amazing Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé that comes from South Africa. It will change your whole perspective on pink wine. We’ve got some good Kansas Rosé that is worth checking out too. 

Gamay. If you’ve ever tried a Beaujolais wine from France, you know why Gamay is on this list.  It’s fruity, floral, light-bodied, and RED because no one said red wine drinkers should stay home in the summertime. I was in France once for the release of the Beaujolais Nouveau in the fall. All the locals raised a glass and proclaimed “it tastes like bananas!” They aren’t wrong. But for spring, try Gamay from the Loire Valley, or a designated appellation in Beaujolais. If you’re good at seeking out wine, find some from California. (Can you tell I’m a bit NorCal biased?)

Brachetto. Pronounced “brak-kett-toe” this red wine should definitely be on your list, especially if your go-to is Moscato. It’s lighter but still sweet with lots of aromatics and light frothy bubbles. Brachetto and Brachetto d’Aqui (my personal fav) are produced almost exclusively in Piedmont, Italy. If you’ve ever wanted to try wine ice cream floats, this is your bottle.

So let’s talk wine! How many of these have you already tried?  What else is on your spring wine list? What should I add to mine? Cheers!

 

Family Style Wichita Dining with Curbside Pick Up and Delivery

It’s more important than ever to support local – and businesses and restaurants are doing a great job pivoting and stretching to serve their customers in light of current events. And we want to support them! 

Below is a running list of restaurants specifically offering family style meals on their menus, and these are suggested straight from the moms on our team. 

For an excellent comprehensive list, visit Wichita by EB’s Restaurant Options and if you are looking for something specific, this is a great spot to ask questions.

*We have found most restaurants are updating their offerings on their Facebook Pages – we suggest to check there as the situation changes daily! 

 

Family Style Wichita Dining with Curbside Pick Up and Delivery

East

Los Compadres
Family Meals available
*Free delivery!
316-295-3295 

 Jersey Mikes
*free delivery through app

Greystone
Call 316-295-2636 to order for pick up the next day. 
Feed 4 for $40 = pasta, burger, or taco package

Bagatelle Bakery
Family Meals for $40.00. 
Contact door dash or give us a call at 316-684-5662 
*Offering take and bake cinnamon rolls for family breakfast.

Fuzzy’s
Taco Family Meals and Family Salads. 
Call 316-684-8226 for curbside pickup or delivery
*margarita kits for $12 (just add tequila!)

Oak & Pie
Use promo code- PIE BABY & first time app users get 20% off the entire bill. 
*Take and bake available

Wine Dive
Family meals available for carry out
*wine also offered for carryout

Newport Grill
Feed the family deal
*includes one roll of toilet paper with every carry out order – ha!

Firebirds
Family Meal Deals
Serve 4 and start at just $29.95.
*offering FIREBAR (booze) to go

West

Twelve
Call ahead ordering 316-440-2812, call between 10:30am-2:30pm. Family Dinner Carryout Menu offers our freshly prepared meals Family Cookout Grocery Menu 
*wine by the bottle curbside*, $25/bottle.
 
Blue Moon
Feeds 6-9, call 316-612-4694
*Delivery available
 
Felipes
3434 W Central (942-9131) and 119th & Maple (729-2500). 
Offering limited menu & family meals using call ahead curbside pickup and delivery service through GrubHub
 
Uno Mas
FAMILY DINNER TACO MEAL $24.99
Feeds family of 4-5.
Only available from 3-7pm
21st & Amidon 316-779-1090, 13th & Tyler 316-364-4632

 
Downtown

Public at the Brickyard
Family meal, pizzas, burger and fries. 
Order NOW to pickup Wednesday-Saturday from 4 pm to 8 pm 

Delano Mexico Cafe
Enchiladas for sale. $10 a dozen beef and cheese, cheese and onion! 
Frozen food available as well
Call 316 264-1121 or 316 339-4483
*Offers Delivery

 The Kitchen
Family To-Go Meals 
www.thekitchenwichita.com OR call 316-928-2899 between 10 am -7 pm
*Delivery via Wichita2Go

 Multiple Locations

Texas Road House (East and West)
Family Packs, serves 4
Order Online or call 316-943-8722 (west) 316-634-1106 (east)

Ziggy’s
East & West: $25 for two pizzas and an app, or $25 for 4 sandwiches with chips or a side salad. 

Chickfila
*20% bonus points through April 30th when ordering through app

Carlos O’Kelly’s
Family Pack Meals

Serves 4-5 and also offers take and bake options

Jose Peppers (East & West)
Family Meals available
316-260-6404 East and 316-613-2333 West
*free espinaca with carryout

Knollas (East & West)
Family Care bundle $25
Available at East Central, West Central and Maize locations only. 
Valid until April 14th, 2020 while supplies last.

North

Elderslie Farm
Family Meal Takeout
Offered Thursday, Friday, Saturday

 Derby

Casa Martinez
Family Meal Deal Menu 
*orders come with free chips and salsa
Call in your order for pick-up or curbside, 316-788-7333 

Newton

Back Alley Pizza
316- 804-4924

El Dorado

Willies
$8.00 World Famous Chicken Fingers with Fries!!!!!
$10 Minimum order/$2 Delivery Fee
Call 316-452-5546 when you arrive for Curbside Pick-Up


 

10 Wichita Shops with Lots of Great Stuff for Your Easter Baskets

Wouldn’t you know, holidays still happen in the middle of a pandemic! With Easter just around the corner, the Easter bunny may have some difficulty gathering items for baskets this year, so here are some fun options that are a. available, b. offer either curbside/porch pickup or porch delivery, and c. are sure to bring a smile to your kids’ faces!

Love of Character is a favorite local shop that has gone above and beyond during this time to put together packages of happy. They offer so many different arts and crafts kits like this animal sticker one or these DIY fairy wands. They also have a great selection of puzzles, toys, games, and stuffed animals found under their toys and games tab. You can grab decor and party supplies (because who says your Easter lunch can’t still be pretty?!) under the Easter tab. Best of all, you’re supporting a local business and you can either get free delivery within 10 miles (or for a small fee if you’re outside of that,) have it shipped, or arrange a scheduled pickup from the back door of their College Hill location. 

Photo Credit: Alison Moore Photography

Imagine That Toys is another incredible local shop that has added a virtual album to their Facebook page with their inventory, has a full website, and is offering curbside pickup. They’re also offering Facetime calls if you’d like to chat with one of them and see what all is available that your child is interested in! I’m eyeing some Lego kits and a pack of Kwik Stix for my kids. 

If you’re a girl mom, Julie Devore.Statement Pieces is another local small business and she has designed the cutest children’s line of earrings! She offers them on either a post or magnets for little ladies without pierced ears. You can choose the pairs you’d like on her Facebook page and arrange porch pickup to grab them – And you might as well grab a pair for your own Easter basket while you’re at it! Sally Cavanaugh, a Matilda Jane trunk keeper, also has some sweet items on hand! If you like to include a swimsuit or beach towel in your kids’ baskets, Matilda Jane has the cutest designs! You can contact her through her Facebook page or call/text her at 316-207-1386 for porch pickup or delivery. 

Every Easter basket needs some yummy treats, and Nifty Nut House is offering curbside carryout. You can find their hours and details for placing your order on their Facebook page. If popcorn is more your (or your kids’) thing, The Popcorner East and West are both offering curbside pickup, too! 

We’re all looking for activities to keep our kids busy, and Evans Ceramic Supply has put together paint your own pottery kits that will also last for years to come. Let the kids paint them or make it a family activity, and then next year when you get out your Easter decor, you can talk about how different things are from this year! 

Another way to entertain the kids and to enjoy a yummy treat are the cookie decorating kits from Connie’s Cookies (egg or circle shaped cookies) or Drury Lane Bakery and Cafe (unicorns and mermaids or trains and planes!) Both places are also offering take and bake cookie dough. Connie’s Cookies has a drive thru and Drury Lane is doing call ahead with curbside pickup. 

Pigtails & Crewcuts East is offering Easter Basket delivery this year! Baskets are pre-order only, and will be dropped off on your porch on April 6 & 7. Click here for more details!

I always try to support local (and especially right now,) but have grabbed a few items from chains like Target and Michael’s too since they’re offering curbside carryout. Target has these awesome bubble guns for $3 and chalk stencils for all of the driveway masterpieces in your future, and you can grab some plastic eggs if you seem to have misplaced yours from last year. Michael’s has dot markers – bonus points that you can use them with schooling activities from Pinterest – and all kinds of activity kits

We may not have any kid-free errand running time, open stores, or even Amazon prime shipping for Easter basket goodies this year, but we will still find a way to make a holiday magical in the midst of crazy – we’re moms, we’ve got this. 

Wichita Mom Neighborhood Egg Hunt

We’re going on an Egg Hunt April 8-12th!

We may have had to postpone the Wichita Mom Spring Family Egg Hunt to the fall, but that doesn’t mean we can’t come together (while being socially distant!) and encourage our neighborhoods to participate in a Neighborhood Egg Hunt.

We’ve had so much fun on the neighborhood window scavenger hunts, and this is an extension to the fun – Easter style. 

How It Works

  1. Print these FREE Printables (or feel free to create your own) and have your kiddos color or paint them. 
  2. Display your colorful Easter egg art on front-facing windows, making sure anyone walking by can see. 
  3. Spread the word to your neighbors! Share this in your Facebook groups or text threads.
  4. The goal is to have eggs ready to go by April 8th and stay displayed until Easter Sunday, April 12th. 

Go on an Egg Hunt April 8-12th

Take a walk around your neighborhood hunting for eggs – be sure to count how many you find! Take pictures of your favorites, and be sure to share by tagging @wichitamoms as we would love to share.

Please join us and SHARE pics of your Egg Hunt HERE! We hope to get as many involved as we can. 


 

Can Your Kids Bust Out of This Free Digital Harry Potter Escape Room?

Looking for a fun activity to kill time? If you’ve got Harry Potter fans in your house, you should give this free digital escape room a try!

We’ve read the books, watched the movies, and even visited Platform 9 ¾ in London, so during our extended time at home, an escape room was the perfect afternoon activity.

It’s best done on a laptop or desktop computer, but you can do it on a phone or tablet as long as you can open multiple windows and toggle between them. Have paper and a pencil ready, too!

I’d put the puzzles and math questions around a 4th-5th grade level but it I think it would entertain middle schoolers, too. My 9-year-old and I completed it together in 20 minutes. Play as a family or have older kids go head-to-head to see who can get out first!

It’s only available during the COVID-19 stay-at-home/shelter in place orders, so don’t sleep on it! The library that created it must remove it once the coronavirus threat has passed.

Ready to play the Hogwarts Digital Escape Room? Click here!

 

Other Fun Harry Potter Activities to Try at Home

 


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What I Wish They Knew About Autism

When he was 1, it was perplexing that Luc didn’t babble and couldn’t walk and stayed to himself.  But he was a baby so people thought it was fine.

When he was 4, it was confusing as to why he didn’t talk, but he was a pre-schooler and so cute, so people thought it was fine.

When he was 8, it was surprising that he spoke so loudly, didn’t like certain sounds, and fixated on trains, but he was just a kid so people raised eyebrows but let him be. 

But at 16, it’s odd that he likes to play with little kids, talks endlessly about battleships (and trains), and wears fluorescent clothes. His cadence is unusual, certain sounds bother him, and he laughs at unfunny things. He looks like a young man and sounds like a young man, but doesn’t act like a young man.  He acts like a quirky kid, and people don’t always think it’s fine.

Luc is the fourth of five boys.  We knew early on that something was different about his development.  He didn’t reach the same milestones physically or socially, and at 12 months he was flagged for autism.  Endless speech, physical and occupational therapies at Heartspring made a massive difference, and today Luc functions well in his protected world.

But I can’t always protect him. I adore my boy, and most who work with him and come in contact with him love him. He’s kind, gentle, social, and he loves to help others. He enjoys school and has plenty of kids who interact with him, and he participates in several different activities fairly independently.

Most kids seem unfazed by Luc. We are so blessed that he feels loved and included at school and in our social groups. Luc’s brothers consistently model how to handle Luc, and their friends follow suit.  My mom friends are amazing; I could cry thinking about the number of times I’ve looked for Luc and found him sitting with my friends chatting away, and Luc is as happy as can be. 

But sometimes Luc has interactions with others – people who don’t know him.  We go to dozens of games a year in a variety of sports, and Luc wanders off.  We’ve lost him before and found him sitting with the opposing team, sharing nachos. We’ve found him sitting with someone’s grandparents, telling them about the Titanic. We’ve found him playing in a park with kids we don’t know, and parents concerned about the giant kid playing tag. 

Suddenly, it’s not fine.  

What do I wish they knew?

I wish they knew Luc’s mom, dad, brothers, or grandparents are probably nearby watching, or looking for him, because we worry about how he’ll be treated, or what he might do that is misconstrued. 

I wish they knew that while quirky, to give him the benefit of the doubt and just watch and see what he does. I wish they’d recognize how happy he is, and how much kids like playing with him.

I wish they wouldn’t judge the kid with non-matching fluorescent clothes and sunglasses and instead see a kid who loves to help and play. I wish they’d watch other kids with Luc and see their big smiles as they interact with my boy. 

I wish they smiled, listened to him, made eye contact with us and waved, and decided to just be kind. 

I wish they recognized that quirky isn’t bad. He’s not damaged, just different, and Luc is so very interesting. 

I wish they knew how hard we’ve worked as a family to help Luc find success socially, physically, emotionally, and academically, and how he’s still learning – and so are we.

I wish they realized that we believe Luc is perfect for our family, a vital member of the Adler crew.  He keeps us from focusing on the endless games and school activities and instead see the fun in Nerf guns, Legos, playing with the dog, jumping on a trampoline, and floating in a pool.  He reminds us of the need for quiet, the need for space, and the need for time. 

I wish they knew that sometimes when he’s tired of people he disappears – either physically leaving or “disappearing” in his head.  I wish they knew that we trust when he needs space and let him have it, and no talking will change that.  

I wish they knew that when Luc feels left out, or believes he’s done something wrong, he’s shattered. He dwells on it for hours and will bring it up months later. He doesn’t forget hurts. I wish they knew he doesn’t forget big joys either, and gets the same feelings from those happy memories months later.

Sometimes I wish Luc was still 4, when his quirks were cute. But mostly, I wish others would let my 16 year old be who he is, in this moment, and trusted Luc and those who love him.

I wish they’d watch, smile, and follow the lead of the others near Luc. They’re probably kids, and they’ll be the ones grinning while talking and interacting with Luc; the ones enjoying their day with a young man who is quirky, but also so, so amazing. 

I just wish they knew.

 

Things to Do ONLINE in Wichita | APRIL 2020

Things to Do ONLINE in Wichita this Month – April 2020

We get it – things are weird right now. While we are all in this together, but apart, here are some great activities you can find online for education and entertainment!

We’ve also got ideas for things to do in the yard and driveway, tips for working from home, and guilt-free youtube channels for kids!

We are thrilled to bring this resource in collaboration with one of our favorite community partners: Botanica! To make planning easy, we are excited to highlight their April events below:

Botanica

Social Media 30 Day Challenge

March 25 – April 24. Each day Botanica will post a different activity on social media for you to complete at home. Every day they will be giving away one FREE family membership to someone that completed the activity! 

Virtual Tours

Nature is not ordered to shelter in place. Mother Nature marches on and she needs to be taken care of by gardeners. They are doing a stupendous job without the help of volunteers during this time. It is a huge task to maintain the gardens, so don’t miss out on the beautiful blooms at Botanica this Spring! You can see special garden tours from Executive Director Marty Miller, as well as a live feed of the tulips blooming in our Margie Button Memorial Fountain and Garden by watching on Botanica’s Facebook, youtube channel or website. 

Virtual Storytime

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:00amJoin Miss Laurel for Story Time online! Children of all ages can enjoy interactive stories, music, rhymes, and movement. This can help connect you to the gardens while you are staying healthy at home. You can watch the videos on Botanica’s Facebook, youtube channel or website. 

>>Click HERE for a list of all Botanica events in April<<

Things to Do ONLINE in Wichita | April 2020 

April 1, 2020

9:00 am PE With Joe
9:00 am School of Croc
10:00 am Craft at Home
10:00 am Music with Kali
2:00 pm Home Safari
2:00 pm Lil Maestros

April 2, 2020

9:00 am PE With Joe
9:00 am School of Croc
10:00 am Craft at Home
2:00 pm Home Safari
2:00 pm Lil Maestros

April 3, 2020

9:00 am PE With Joe
9:00 am School of Croc
10:00 am Craft at Home
10:00 am Music with Kali
2:00 pm Home Safari
2:00 pm Lil Maestros

April 4, 2020

2:00 pm Home Safari
4:00 pm Wine Warrior

April 5, 2020

2:00 pm Home Safari

April 6, 2020

9:00 am PE With Joe
9:00 am School of Croc
10:00 am Craft at Home
10:00 am Music with Kali
2:00 pm Home Safari
2:00 pm Lil Maestros

April 7, 2020

9:00 am PE With Joe
9:00 am School of Croc
10:00 am Craft at Home
2:00 pm Home Safari
2:00 pm Lil Maestros

April 8, 2020

9:00 am PE With Joe
9:00 am School of Croc
10:00 am Craft at Home
10:00 am Music with Kali
2:00 pm Home Safari
2:00 pm Lil Maestros

April 9, 2020

9:00 am PE With Joe
9:00 am School of Croc
10:00 am Craft at Home
2:00 pm Home Safari
2:00 pm Lil Maestros

April 10, 2020

9:00 am PE With Joe
9:00 am School of Croc
10:00 am Craft at Home
10:00 am Music with Kali
2:00 pm Lil Maestros

April 13, 2020

9:00 am PE With Joe
9:00 am School of Croc
10:00 am Craft at Home
10:00 am Music with Kali
2:00 pm Lil Maestros

April 14, 2020

9:00 am PE With Joe
9:00 am School of Croc
10:00 am Craft at Home
2:00 pm Lil Maestros

April 15, 2020

9:00 am PE With Joe
9:00 am School of Croc
10:00 am Craft at Home
10:00 am Music with Kali
2:00 pm Lil Maestros

April 16, 2020

9:00 am PE With Joe
9:00 am School of Croc
10:00 am Craft at Home
2:00 pm Lil Maestros

April 17, 2020

9:00 am PE With Joe
9:00 am School of Croc
10:00 am Craft at Home
10:00 am Music with Kali
2:00 pm Lil Maestros

April 20, 2020

9:00 am PE With Joe
9:00 am School of Croc
10:00 am Craft at Home
10:00 am Music with Kali
2:00 pm Lil Maestros

April 21, 2020

9:00 am PE With Joe
9:00 am School of Croc
10:00 am Craft at Home
2:00 pm Lil Maestros

April 22, 2020

9:00 am PE With Joe
9:00 am School of Croc
10:00 am Craft at Home
10:00 am Music with Kali
2:00 pm Lil Maestros

April 23, 2020

9:00 am PE With Joe
9:00 am School of Croc
10:00 am Craft at Home
2:00 pm Lil Maestros

April 24, 2020

9:00 am PE With Joe
9:00 am School of Croc
10:00 am Craft at Home
10:00 am Music with Kali
2:00 pm Lil Maestros

April 26, 2020

April 27, 2020

9:00 am PE With Joe
9:00 am School of Croc
10:00 am Craft at Home
10:00 am Music with Kali
2:00 pm Lil Maestros

April 28, 2020

9:00 am PE With Joe
9:00 am School of Croc
10:00 am Craft at Home
2:00 pm Lil Maestros

April 29, 2020

9:00 am PE With Joe
9:00 am School of Croc
10:00 am Craft at Home
10:00 am Music with Kali
2:00 pm Lil Maestros

April 30, 2020

9:00 am PE With Joe
9:00 am School of Croc
10:00 am Craft at Home
2:00 pm Lil Maestros

More events will be added as the month goes on – check back soon!

If you have an event to add, you can do that here.


Wichita Mom Community Groups

Wichita Mom Community Groups usually meet up once a month, but for now, join us online for fun and encouragement. To find yours, click here.


Please Note :: While we make every effort to crosscheck current links and event details on our guides, we always encourage you to do the same before making final plans. If details are missing or incorrect, please let us know so that we can make every attempt to correct them.

9 Fun April Fool’s Day Pranks to Play on Your Kids

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I have never handled surprises well. So, even when I was a child, I was not a huge fan. However, as an identical twin, the temptation to switch places in 5th grade became too much, and my sister and I swapped places. Because I was such a rule follower, I felt some angst about it, but it all turned in to a fun opportunity that I could live a little on the wild side and make other people smile about the trick.

Now that my boys are solidly in elementary school, they have started to get excited about April Fool’s Day pranks. At first, they didn’t understand the concept. They mostly thought that on April Fool’s Day you got to act a fool and say the potty words that were normally off limits. We talked through what an appropriate trick or prank would be, finally saying that our family rules would be that at the end of the prank, the person you are pranking needs to be laughing and not be humiliated or angry. 
 
With the introduction of social media, a whole new audience to prank is at your fingertips. I have seen many a fake pregnancy announcement and it is never funny, even if you are announcing that you are having a food baby, show an ultrasound of an elephant baby, or otherwise mislead your Facebook friends. It strikes a bit of a nerve in those who may be dealing with infertility, miscarriage, or infant loss.
 
But, in the spirit of “5th Grade Amy”, and knowing my boys would LOVE the prank, I offer you some fun April Fool’s Day pranks! Here are a few family-friendly ideas that would result in everyone getting a laugh out of it.

The old misleading food tricks

Make grilled cheese sandwiches using pound cake and orange frosting. Grill the pound cake just like you would make it normally. Your family would love getting a sweet surprise for dinner!
 
Tell your family you are having cake for dinner. Instead of cake and frosting, make a cake out of meatloaf and mashed potatoes. You can go as fancy or as simple as you want! Don’t forget the ketchup as decorative icing.
 
Serve up some special Kool-Aid by making some Jell-o and refrigerate it in your family’s favorite drinking glasses. Place a straw in it and watch while they take a big drink!

The old summer camp tricks

Fill up their pillow cases with balloons. They will find it just before they go to sleep and get a giggle.
 
Short sheet your kids bed. Tuck the top sheet into the head of the bed and fold up the bottom of sheet to look like like it usually does when it is at the top. You’ll have to cover it with the comforter or blanket to hide the fact that it doesn’t go all the way to the foot of the bed.
 
Swap out bottles of pop with water or colored water.
 

The old plan-ahead tricks

Place googly eyes on all of the items in their lunch box and the refrigerator. They will be laughing about it all day!
 
Make Jell-o Jigglers and pour them into bendy straws. After you remove them from the straws they look just like earthworms. Tell them you found them an amazing after school snack and show them the “worms” and grab a handful and take a bite! They might scream a little but they will never forget the time that mom lost her mind and ate worms for an after school snack!
 
Cut out a bunch of construction paper E’s in brown paper. After dinner tell them you made some brownies for dessert. They will surely laugh when you produce a plate of “brown E’s” for their enjoyment. You might need to have a real back up dessert when they mutiny!
 
It’s not my first inclination to turn dinner-time into a laugh-fest. With two elementary aged boys, I’m mostly interested in them eating what I’ve prepared. But this one day a year gives all of us a chance to loosen the reins and make some memories. What April Fool’s Day pranks are you planning?

How to Get Started Gardening With Your Kids This Spring

As a farmer and a blogger on Instagram, I am often asked by moms wanting to grow some of their own food where they should start. Starting a garden is an exciting prospect and I understand how it may seem daunting at first.  With the right tools and resources though, gardening can be a fun, rewarding, and wholesome activity the entire family can get involved with.

Teaching our kids to garden (or even learning to garden along with them!) has loads of benefits.  Being outside as a family and connecting with nature is super healthy for body and mind.  Gardening can be an important tool to foster healthy eating habits and food relationships too. With a vegetable garden, learning opportunities abound: cause and effect, delayed gratification, the importance of healthy soil, where food comes from, etc.  Of course one of the biggest (and arguably most satisfying) advantages is providing food for your family that you grew yourself.

Kids thrive with a little autonomy and growing food together is a perfect way to put all those strong wills and opinions to use. Let them help choose what food crops your family will plant this growing season.  You might be surprised what they pick!  Kids will often want to try growing a veggie that maybe they don’t necessarily love to eat – embrace that! Once they have a chance to “own it” by being involved with growing that veggie, they are much more likely to want to eat some.  Here are some food crops that are easy to grow and kid-friendly:

  • Radishes
  • Kale
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Strawberries
  • Kohlrabi
  • Super Snap Peas
  • Leaf Lettuce
  • Parisian Carrots
  • Mini cucumbers
  • Fingerling Potatoes

Helpful Resources To Garden Successfully In Our Area

Local Farmers

Hitting up Wichita farmers’ markets isn’t just a great way to support local businesses and purchase some awesome, nutrient-dense foods.  Browsing the offerings week after week at the market can help you learn seasonality and what things grow well here. Many of us farmers even sell extra garden transplants and we’re always happy to chat about growing practices and give advice.

Kansas Garden Guide

I love this publication from K-State Research & Extension (after all, I’m a Wildcat alum myself), BUT as an organic/regenerative farmer, I feel it’s important to offer this caveat: use chemical-free, organic gardening inputs (fertilizer, amendments, insect sprays, and so on) instead of the conventional recommendations this document (and many others from K-State) provide.  Also, be sure to steer clear of applying herbicides anywhere near your garden.

How To Get Started

Choose The Right Location

If you’re brand new to gardening, you’ll first need to decide where you’re going to plant.  No matter your situation, there is likely a method that will work for you, whether that’s in containers, raised beds, in-ground plots, or even a community garden space.  Choosing an area with a minimum half-day full sun is essential for success.  Containers and raised beds can be filled with organic potting soil or a mixture of compost and quality top soil.  If you plan to garden in the ground, getting a soil test is an important first step in getting to know your existing soil, so you can make informed decisions on what amendments to add.

Don’t Overthink It

Growing food can be, for the most part, pretty easy.  The hardest hurdle is often just jumping in and getting started.  You can start as big or small as what feels right to you right now, even if that’s just tucking some herbs into your existing landscaping or planting a tomato in a large pot on the deck.  There’s always time to expand later.  Get the kids involved, get outside, get dirty, and have fun with it.

8 Ways to Teach Your Kids About Coronavirus and Keep Them Engaged

This post is sponsored by Wesley Medical Center.
By Priyank Yagnik, MD
Pediatric Critical Care at Wesley Children’s Hospital

One thing that is spreading faster than the coronavirus itself is the news about it. In this age of information overload, it is easier to be misinformed than it is to stay well-informed. If we grown-ups are struggling to stay well-informed, we can only imagine how kids are reacting to corona stories.

The good news is that children worldwide are, for the most part, not affected or only very mildly affected by coronavirus.

But all of the news we hear every day can be particularly scary for kids. So it’s important to reassure them and explain why their lives are changing as we adapt to the coronavirus crisis.

First, we grown-ups need to prepare ourselves before teaching our little ones doing the following:

  • Not using social media as our main source of information. Many of the messages and news articles we see on social media are not curated or filtered and, in many instances, are fake. Always confirm the information you see before you share.
  • Not streaming or watching news constantly at home. Even if kids aren’t in the room, they are often listening, and the news they hear can be scary.
  • Using only reliable sources such as Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and other similar sources.
  • Refraining from spreading unsubstantiated or unbelievable messages. Depending upon our professional background, our friends/followers can get misled depending upon what we post rather than what we practice.

After taking precautions for ourselves, we are now equipped to teach our curious Georges and sassy Elsas what they need to know:

Be honest: Please give them as much information as is necessary depending on their age and maturity level. At the same time, do not shut their curiosity down by not answering questions.

It’s like getting flu: Explain that coronavirus is just like any other germ that causes fever and flu-like illness, so it’s important to take precautions.

Teach non-discrimination: At this time, it’s important to teach kids to treat everyone with respect. Just because someone is from specific country, speaks a different language or has a different skin color doesn’t mean he or she is infected.

Promote good hygiene – Please teach them these age-old principles:

    • Sing happy birthday song twice while washing their hands
    • Cover their coughs and sneezes
    • Avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
    • Stay away from anyone who is coughing or sneezing

Keep them positively engaged. Staying at home and away from other people and children can be challenging. Here are some ideas to keep them connected and engaged during this time:

    • Talk to parents who are homeschooling their kids to get ideas on how to keep up education at home
    • Use free online resources such as YouTube channels (SciShow Kids, Free School, Crash Course Kids, etc), educational websites (BrainPop, Curiosity Stream, Udemy, Khan Academy, etc) and online library websites 
    • Disconnect to connect – use lots of board games and library books, so you can spend time together as a family
    • Involve them in household chores
    • Do art projects to keep kids active and allow them to express themselves

Play and exercise. As the weather improves, go in the backyard and play some outdoor games to get some fresh air and exercise.

Stay connected. If you are missing dear ones, rather than visiting them or inviting them over, use video calling applications such as Facetime, Whatsapp, Skype and more. All are easy to use and most can be used free these days.

Avoid crowds. Explain to them that we cannot go out where there are 10 or more people. These places may include sports events, concerts – even stores. But this is temporary, and after a time, we will be able to go back to our normal routines. 

Remember, our kids trust us more than anyone else in the world. The way we talk to them – especially about serious topics — leaves a long-lasting impression in their minds.


Priyank J. Yagnik, MD, MPH, is a pediatric intensivist at Wesley Children’s Hospital in Wichita, Kansas. He has been Assistant Medical Director for pediatric critical care services since January of 2019. A 2007 graduate of Gujarat University in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India, Dr. Yagnik received his Master of Public Health (MPH) degree from the University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston, Texas, in 2009, while also completing his residency in General Pediatrics at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas, in 2012. He completed a Fellowship in Pediatric Critical Care at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas in 2015. He is a board member for the American Heart Association of Wichita, and a journal reviewer for the International Journal of Integrative Pediatrics and Environmental Medicine, and is also in charge of developing resident curriculum for bedside ultrasound training for general pediatrics and med/peds residents at Wesley.

11 Essentials to Buy Right Now to Entertain Kids While Stuck at Home

With the news of the spread of Covid-19 over two weeks ago – toiler paper, hand sanitizer, and bleach wipes were quickly being purchased and became sold out of stores everywhere. And suddenly I realized that I should also load my cart with necessary items. However my essentials happened to be things I bought to entertain my kids. So I quickly put the following in my cart:

 *a good mix from Amazon (delivery, but delayed shipping dates), Love of Character (local delivery), and Target (pickup – best thing ever when you need it NOW). Some of the links below are affiliate links, but I have personally purchased all, and my kids love every item on this list.

Perler Beads – I actually ran to Hobby Lobby the moment I heard schools might not come back in session after Spring Break. Perler Beads were my first purchase and a whole tub was only around $7 (with that trusty 40% off coupon). The great news is, Amazon also has a ton of options. These keep my kids busy for hours – even my 5 year old who is nearly impossible to engage for long periods of time. I also got the square peg board and this book with tons of options to create. 

Paint by Number – Confession: I don’t love a mess. So these are perfect because they are “painting” with stickers. They also work with numbers, so great to go along with a math lesson as well. 

Sidewalk Chalk – *currently sold out. Eek. I panic-purchased on this one. I realized we had a lot of sidewalk chalk leftover from last year, but they were all little nubs. So I grabbed a big tub of chalk on Amazon and also picked up some Painters Tape (sold out at Target) to use to make those cool mosaic chalk arts that have been circulating on social media. Tip: this can be done on a sidewalk, fence, or poster board (with paint) for inside fun!

Lego Sets – I got several sets from Target because they were having a 20% off sale (wait for one of those!) and the best part is I ordered through the app, and they brought them to my car. These little Disney sets were awesome for my 5 year old (and only $7.99 each), and my 7 year old loved this one ($23.99 on sale). 

Journals + Pens – a good friend had the suggestion of having our kids journal everyday during this historical time. It’s so simple, and my first grader is already used to journaling daily. SO I contacted Mary at Love of Character because I knew she was doing deliveries, and I got the cutest rainbowjournals for each of my daughters and ooly brand pens (my favorite)! *Journal entries so far have included: things we are thankful for, what I love about my home, and things I want to learn in “mommy school”. 

Bubbles– Does anyone really ever get tired of bubbles? Every chance we get, we go outside. And my kiddos love blowing bubbles, bubble wands, and bubble machines. 

Puzzles – I accidentally got a little ambitious and ordered a 1000 piece puzzle ($16) from Love of Character. But here’s the thing, we have a lot of time on our hands. So our goal is to work on this puzzle every night as a family. And again, it showed up on my doorstep. 

Roll of White Paper – Never underestimate the power of a giant roll of paper. We have created a zoo, posters for our windows, our We Got This Challenge Sign, and plan to use it for painting and drawing for the next month or two. 

Games – I saw Settlers of Catan Jr. while doing my weekly grocery run at Target (but also, car pick up works for this). And it turned out to be such a great purchase! Both my girls, ages 5 and 7 ask to play this almost daily. Here is a list of some of our favorite board games. 

Jungle Gym – We don’t have anything in our backyard except grass. So it was time. We wanted something fairly inexpensive and when we asked our girls what was most important in outdoor play for them – they unanimously said “climbing”. So we bought a backyard jungle gym. 

Gymnastic Mats – My kiddos were already driving me crazy with all the cartwheels and flips in the house. So I finally pulled the trigger on a gymnastics mat to throw in the basement so they can cartwheel to their heart’s content. (On sale on Amazing for $89 .99 and only one week shipping time. 

What kiddo essentials have helped you survive quarantine?


 

Guides + Resources

10 Wichita Shops with Lots of Great Stuff for Your Easter...

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Wouldn't you know, holidays still happen in the middle of a pandemic! With Easter just around the corner, the Easter bunny may have some...